This recipe is adapted from Nika Hazelton's I Cook as I Please, a series of essays with recipes published in 1974 and the winner of 1975's Cookbook of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation. Nika Hazleton was a cookbook author, the cookbook reviewer for the NY Times, and a food columnist for William F. Buckley, Jr.'s National Review. She was a pal of James Beard's and it was James Beard who recommended her for the National Review food column.
I find myself slightly amazed that the National Review ever had a food columnist (I'm unable to determine via google if they still do) and even more amazed that I'm actually reading the National Review even if it is just a food column, but Nika Hazleton's food writing both in her columns and in her book is charmingly and quirkily, and sometimes even a little grumpily, opinionated, and an enjoyable read. Many of her opinions -- her insistence on seasonal fruits and vegetables, for instance -- seem ahead of their time.
In the headnotes for this recipe Nika Hazelton writes that when asparagus is in season she would invite people for a meal that consisted only of asparagus, followed by a substantial dessert like a cake. In fact, she is well known for a birthday party dinner she hosted for William F. Buckley where asparagus was served as the main course. I love the idea for the asparagus-only dinner and I think strawberry shortcake would be the perfect dessert. I look forward to doing it this spring when our local asparagus is in.
Our weather lately has been cold and wet and this is a hearty and filling meal for a cold and wet spring day. The lemon-butter-egg sauce is rich although not overwhelmingly so and in combination with the asparagus and potato makes a complete meal although if you were looking for something a little lighter you could serve it without the potatoes.
Nika Hazelton's Flemish Asparagus
for each serving:
1/2 to 3/4 pound of asparagus
1 medium sized thin-skinned potato
1 hard boiled egg, peeled
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon of lemon
1 tablespoon of minced parsley
1. Boil the potato in salted water until a fork pierces it easily.
2. Meanwhile, trim the asparagus and if the stalks are thick, peel them. Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water until they are tender. I'm a freak about not having mushy asparagus and I pull them out while they still have a little crispness.
3. Sieve the eggs. I wasn't very successful in sieving my eggs and resorted to chopping them very finely in the food processor. Pulse until the eggs are chopped finely but stop while they are still fluffy and before they become egg paste. Melt the butter, add the sieved eggs, parsley, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve by mashing open a potato, salt it, lay the asparagus on top, spoon the sauce over the asparagus leaving the asparagus tips unsauced.